LG 52LB5D Review

March 14 2009


Back in 2007 I reviewed the LG 50PC5D plasma HDTV and overall found it to be a decent 720p television.  As I mentioned in that review one advantage of plasma televisions was the perfect 180° viewing angles.  This was so important to me that I regarded LCD and rear-projection televisions inferior and wouldn't give them a second look.   I have a 60" rear-projection HDTV that had such horrible viewing angles that you had to sit pretty much directly in front of it at eye level.  Any deviation and the contrast and color suffered.   

Today I am reviewing a LG 52LB5D, which is a 52" 1080p LCD HDTV. It is a beautifully designed TV similar to the LG 50PC5D. The bezel and stand are glossy black plastic and prone to scratching even with the lightest rubbing.  If you want to keep it scratch-free your only solution is to use compressed air to blow the dust off.  I wish LG had used a much more resilient material like glass or tougher plastic.  The stand does not swivel and I wish it did.  This would've made access to the back much more convenient for easy connections.  The 52" screen has a matte texture and helps reduce glare or sharp reflections.  This is very important if the TV will be facing a window where daylight can cause annoying glare.  It really does enhances viewability.  For input the set is equipped with a variety of connections that come standard on HDTVs these days: HDMI, Component, RCA, Coax, VGA and S-Video.  There is also an optical-out for audio. One notable input is a USB media port where you can connect any USB storage device and view JPEG images or play mp3 audio directly off it.  I get viewing pictures but who listens to mp3s with their TVs.  That would make it one power hungry mp3 player in my opinion.




The audio is superb. It is loud and clear and fairly balanced. The front-firing speakers are well hidden in the chassis.  The speaker grill itself is unique in that it doesn't look like a traditional speaker grill.  It looks like it's just part of the bezel.  It's baffling to me how the sound gets out without the slightest hint of attenuation from the grills.

Performance wise the TV performed very well and has altered my opinion on LCD HDTVs in general.  LG rates the viewing angles as 178° both horizontally and vertically and I will certainly back that up.  I would even go so far and say it's the best viewing angle I have seen from an LCD to date. The panel employs Super IPS technology and from what I gather it also results in faster response time, less color banding and better viewing angles.  When I first viewed the 52LB5D I mistakenly thought it was a plasma television based on the exceptional viewing angles.  I had to leaf through the manual to be sure it was in fact an LCD.  Backlighting uses compact fluorescent. Picture is very bright. Light output can be controlled and illumination is even throughout but you can clearly see light bleeding at the edges with a black screen. Nothing serious.  I am definitely impressed.  One thing that still plagues LCDs is the poor black level when compared to plasmas.  You lose a bit of contrast but you quickly learn to forget about it.

I proceeded to test the HD features using QAM and ATSC.  Both passed exceptionally well.  There was no discernable difference when viewing HD signals. Similar to the 50PC5D, video processing artifacts were noticeable even with the XD noise filter enabled.  I connected my computer via vga and watched some 1080p videos that I knew had little to no compression artifacts.  As I had surmised the video looked pristine on the set and I can comfortably say HDTV is only as good as the video source you connect to it.  I also viewed high resolution images and was very pleased.  I wish I had a Blu-ray player to test the HDMI connection.  The second best I had available was a DVD player and that performed well. The tuners are fairly quick when channel surfing. The TV guide feature is lacking. You don't get much info on what you are currently watching.

The menu system is well organized with a nice graphical user interface that doesn't overwhelm you with too many options.  Navigation is responsive.  With a click of a button you can view information on what you are watching. The remote control is similar to other LG televisions and has nicely laid out buttons and provide quick access to useful settings. The buttons have a nice tactile feedback as well.

I like this new LCD TV despite the poor black level when compared to a plasma TV.  The viewing angles is the best. It also generates less heat in front of the screen when compared to plasmas.  Whenever I stand next to my plasma I could feel the warm air and somehow I feel that I'm being bombarded by harmful radiations.  I would definitely recommend this TV.